Duet: Falling in Love…Again + Office FYI: A Musical

Mary Newton Gallery, 150 Vivian St, Wellington

10/02/2009 - 14/02/2009

NZ Fringe Festival 2009

Production Details

Duet: Falling in Love…Again + Office FYI: A Musical

An intimate double-bill of quirky, misguided romances where the theatrics of love are rehearsed and the memos are in song. Will the first (paper) cut prove the deepest for Violet? Can Nora perform the water-cooler tango before her waters break?

Gusty Group Production Team:

Leon Magowan Composer/ Sound Designer/ Production Team
Leon is completing his final papers for a BA, majoring in English Literature, Film and Music Studies at Victoria University and the New Zealand School of Music. In 2007, he received the runner up for Best Soundtrack in the Victoria Short Film Awards for his score for Hope, and over the last couple of years has composed soundtracks for short films from both Victoria University and the South Seas School of Film and Television, Leon also composed original music for 21 Reasons for Fringe 2007.

Francesca Emms Writer, Lighting, Co-Producing
Francesca has a BA in English and Theatre from Victoria University. From 2003-2006 Francesca gained experience as a lighting designer and operator, writer and director through various Victoria University productions. Francesca founded Rankle Productions in 2006 and produced 2 successful shows, both of which she wrote, directed and composed original music for. She is currently working as a freelance composer for Radio NZ and is also a playwright and actress. 

Cherie Jacobson – Director/ Production Team
Cherie has a BA in Theatre, English Literature, and Women and Gender Studies from Victoria University and has recently completed her Honours. Cherie has been involved in the SGCNZ Young Shakespeare Company 2005, Young and Hungry 2005, and was co-devisor/performer in the 2007 Fringe piece A Darling Bud of Maybe. Cherie’s directing piece in the final year of her BA was Renée’s Tiggy Tiggy Touch Wood. Cherie then directed Rankle Productions Fringe 08 comedy 21 Reasons.

Josephine OSullivan – Producer/ Marketing
Josephine graduated from Auckland University in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts in Film Television and Media Studies and Women Studies. Upon graduating Josephine worked at the New Zealand Film Commission where she discovered a passion for producing.  Josephine is also an actress and writer. 

Duet Cast Bios

Falling in Love…Again

Rufus – Robert Bullen
Robert Bullen attended the New Zealand College of Performing Arts where he studied for three years, graduating in 2006 with an Advanced Diploma in Stage and Screen Arts. Since then he has been involved in many different projects in the performing arts industry, including 21 Reasons for Fringe 2008 and Bouncers at BATS.

Violet – Kerina Deas
Kerina Deas graduated with her BPA from NASDA and then from Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School and Victoria University with her Masters in Theatre Arts (Directing). She has most recently been seen in the cabaret The Outing and is a core member of the kids entertainment group ‘The Plops’. She is looking forward to her role of Violet in Falling in Love Again.

Griffin – Josephine O’Sullivan
Josephine O’Sullivan is a graduate of Auckland University. She played Mandy in Rankle Productions 21 Reasons for Fringe 2008.  She is a master at roles which put her character in a situation which is completely out of her control! Jo is enjoying working with a small cast.  

Office FYI: A Musical

Cassandra – Ruth Armishaw
Ruth Armishaw completed her Bachelor of Music (Hons) in Vocal Jazz Performance at the New Zealand School of Music in 2007. In 2008 she performed in Cats (Wellington Musical Theatre) and Jenufa (NBR NZ Opera with whom she has been singing for 7 years). Ruth recently attended the NZ National Singing School in Napier majoring in Musical Theatre.

Nora – Francesca Emms
Francesca Emms has a BA in Theatre from Victoria University. She has played the narrator in Joseph and his Technicolor Dream Coat, Madame Dubonnet in The Boyfriend and Phonograph 11 in The Eiffel Tower Wedding Party. Francesca has also been involved in numerous short films and three previous Fringe Festivals.

Emily – Emily Middleton
Emily Middleton’s most recent roles in musical theatre were in the Wellington Musical Theatre production of Cats as Jemima, and in Sound of Music as a Postulant. Emily loves musical theatre as she can put her many years of dancing and singing training to good use.

Ben – Morgan Wisheart
Morgan Wisheart has been interested in acting and singing from a young age, and was involved in a number of productions at Wellington High School from 2003 to 2008. Most recently he was an offstage vocalist for the production of Cats at the St James Theatre in 2008.

Nick – Ike Graham
After recently relocating from the USA, Ike Graham has been performing in Wellington since 2007 and has been seen in A TV One Christmas and as Captain Von Trapp in Wellington Musical Theatre’s recent production, Sound of Music.  Ike looks forward to performing the fun role of Nick the mailman.

Ursula – Emma Cooke
Emma Cooke enjoyed performing in shows when she was at high school five years ago. Other than a few karaoke performances in recent years, Office FYI: A Musical is her first leap back onto the stage. Emma enjoys singing and dancing for fun, and attending dance classes to pick up new moves.

Applicant 1 – Hiria Te Rangi
Hiria Te Rangi was voted "most likely to fall off the stage" in sixth form drama and is rather happy that there isn’t a stage in Office FYI: A Musical. Most recently seen in the Lower Hutt Musical Theatre’s production of Grease, Hiria is also the choreographer for the Salsa block in the Cuba St Carnival and had a small part in the movie Separation City.

Applicant 2 – Colleen Trolove
Colleen Trolove is excited to be back on the stage for this fantastic homegrown production. She was last in a musical when she performed in Canterbury University MUSOC’s production of Chess. Nowadays, she sings jazz professionally around Wellington after having cut her teeth on the genre last year in London.

Applicant 3 – Jasper Lambe
Jasper Lambe is a former member of the Long Cloud Youth Theatre Company. He was most recently seen in Eric Bradwell’s There Is No Return, and Rankle Productions’ 21 Reasons. He is chuffed to be working again with the cats from Gusty Group (formerly Rankle Productions).

Location: Mary Newton Gallery, 150 Vivian Street
Date: 10 – 14 February
Time: 6pm – 7.10pm
Tickets: $18

1 hr 10mins

One plot lost, a fantastic treat discovered

Review by John Smythe & Joanne Hodgson 11th Feb 2009

Falling in Love…Again (JS)

It’s not a bad idea at all. Griffen, a keen young playwright (Josephine O’Sullivan), gets well-known acting couple Violet (Kerina Deas) and Rufus (Robert Bullen) to be in her new play but they have split up and are at war. Diverting their criticisms to the script they proceed to rehearse and in the process fall in love … again, leaving their playwright / director / accidental therapist on the outer.

Georgia Jamieson-Emms’ script needs to be much less self-explanatory, however, and it doesn’t help to make the play-within-the-play so obviously silly. An initial contrast between the real world and the make-believe world of Griffen’s play is essential, even if they become indistinguishable in the end.

Sadly Deas in particular plays it way over the top as Violet then inexplicably pantomimes her coy little love scenes, leaving the whole idea floundering in incredulity. Someone somehow has lost the plot. Fortunately director Cherie Jacobson has a better handle on the next part of the programme … 

Office FYI: A Musical (JH)

What a treat!!  Funny, poignant and a very cleverly crafted piece of musical theatre.

Set in the reception of ‘a government funded agency’, this play is a hilarious depiction of a day in the office with Cassandra the self serving and domineering boss (Ruth Armishaw), Ursula the rather nutty but well meaning cleaner (Emma Cooke), Nora the pregnant PA (Francesca Emms), Emily the temp (Emily Middleton), Ben the accountant (Morgan Wisheart), Nick the mailman or mail management co-ordinator (Ike Graham) and 3 applicants (Lucy Muir, Colleen Trolove, Jasper Lambe).

The script, written by Francesca Emms, is definitely quirky as billed and well deserves the Playmarket Emerging Playwrights Commended Award it received in 2008. Francesca, who has a BA in theatre and English from VUW, is not a newcomer to the fringe festival scene. In her latest offering the writing is fresh and deft as it weaves all the characters together in such a charming and innovative way, the story unfolding delightfully.

The music, a collaboration between Leon Magowan – who recently graduated from VUW and NZSM with a BA in film, English Literature and music – and Francesca Emms is fantastic, with wonderfully creative melodies, snappy lyrics and sophisticated yet accessible scoring.

With a range of vocal experience, the characters are portrayed convincingly by the excellent cast. They move through the many different musical genres from the 60’s girl band in Nora’s ode to her Baby Bump (with shoo be do backing and synchronised choreography) to the brilliant ‘Water Cooler Tango’ (including a very imaginative alternative to castanets) with ease.

The company harmony singing in the opening/closing number and particularly in the countrapuntal (maybe influenced by Stephen Schwartz, composer of Godspell and Wicked) ‘It’s All About Me’ is superbly executed.

Ruth Armishaw’s Cassandra is gutsy, making great use of her jazz training in the PA song, although I wanted more contrast vocally in her soliloquy song as she debates the city life she leads and the country one she might have had.

Francesca Emm’s Nora has a lovely poignancy especially in the beautiful duet with the young clear tone of Morgan Wisheart’s Ben.

Ike Graham (who played Captain Von Trapp in WMT’s Sound of Music last year) has a very likeable warm rich baritone which contrasts with Emily Middleton’s natural bright soprano and Emma Cooke characterises Ursula excellently from her first entrance.

Projection is not an issue in the intimate setting of the Mary Newton Gallery in Vivian street where there is room for just two rows of seating for the audience (at capacity on opening night). The elongated playing space is utilised well by director, Cherie Jacobson. A minimal set with a PA’s desk, a water cooler and the usage of the street door and an off stage office from which Cassandra can ‘bark’ her requests gives all the necessary elements to create a very believable office environment.

For a short piece of theatre (both shows together come in at an hour), the audience is immediately engaged from the opening song, warming to the identifiable characters. Occasionally the action gets lost at the desk or with positioning, and the odd spoken line is not delivered as strongly as the sung, but overall Office FYI, the musical is a fantastically enjoyable show.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council